Heinz Baby Rice Cereal contaminated by illegal GE rice (14/3/2006)

Greenpeace finds Heinz Baby Rice Cereal contaminated by illegal GE rice

Greenpeace announced in Beijing today that non-approved genetically-engineered (GE) rice has been detected in Heinz's Baby Rice Cereal and the environmental group called for an immediate recall of all the contaminated products.

It also asked on the government to control the spread of GE rice in the food chain.

The test results were provided by GeneScan, a Germany-based independent laboratory, which tested 19 food samples that Greenpeace had collected in the supermarkets in Beijing.

Heinz Baby Rice Cereal with a best before date of March 12, 2007 is the only product where GE ingredients, namely Bt rice, were detected.

The GE rice variety is developed to be resistant to pest but has not been approved by the government.

"We were completely shocked by the result," said Steven Ma, GE campaigner for Greenpeace China.

"It is the first time we found illegal GE rice in baby food, which should have been subject to the most rigorous surveillance."

In 2000 Mexican scientists found that the Bt protein (Cry1Ac) which comes from GE rice has been found to induce allergic responses in mice, Ma said.

On March 1, Greenpeace notified Heinz China of its finding, asking for an immediate recall of the product and for the company to change its suppliers.

Donald Gadsden, CEO of Heinz China, replied on March 8 that "Heinz will take any alerts seriously and we are now conducting a thorough inspection."

As of March 14, Heinz had not responded with further information about its inspection.


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